The spotting of a leopard at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park has given scientists hope that the park’s ecosystem is enough to sustain a small leopard population. The scientists also hope that more animals that have disappeared from Delhi’s ecosystem will return soon.
The leopard was caught on camera on Tuesday for the first time in many decades, scientists said, though unconfirmed sightings have been reported several times over the years. “The leopard is a young and hefty male. He is well fed,” said Dr Faiyaz Khudsar, scientist in-charge at the park, who has been tracking the leopard for the last two weeks.
Spread across an area of 457 acres, the Yamuna Biodiversity Park near Wazirabad in North Delhi was started in 2002. Over 100 species of plants and trees that had vanished from Delhi’s ecosystem have been revived in the park since then.
Khudsar now wishes to see some spotted deer and sambar in the park.
“Delhi’s wildlife history tells us that it was home to even the Asiatic lion during the Mughal era. We are only hoping for spotted deer and sambar. The park is already home to Asiatic cats, jungle cats, porcupines, civets and neelgais. There are a lot of dogs, obviously. All these are prey for the leopard,” Khudsar.
Scientists think the leopard could have come to Delhi from Kalesar in Haryana, 400 km from the city, which has a healthy population of leopards. “It is not clear if the big cat is here to stay. The male animal has a habit of travelling long distances in search of its own territory, especially if the place it is coming from has become very crowded. If it finds the park to be a suitable place, he might stay back,” Khudsar said.